Cover Crop Field Days and Cost-Share Opportunities for Wabash County Farmers
The Wabash County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) is very fortunate to work with many great partners and through these partnerships several opportunities are available for Wabash County Farmers and/or Landowners to learn about cover crops and apply for conservation cost-share assistance.
First, why would you even plant a cover crop? Rob Shellhamer, Wabash County SWCD Chairman, and his wife Kim are no till farmers who have incorporated cover crops into their farming management practice. Rob says, “Cover crops reduce erosion, grow roots that can penetrate the soil and leave channels for crop roots deeper than any tillage tool, keep leftover nitrogen from leaching away over winter, and provide a means to keep beneficial soil organisms active between cropping seasons. I look at them as an investment in the long term productivity of the soil I farm”.
The Wabash County SWCD will be hosting a cover crop field day at the Wabash County Farm on Thursday August 25th. The guest speaker will be Roger Wenning, a farmer from Decatur County, who will demonstrate his rain simulator and the difference in water run-off between a plot seeded with cover crops and one without. Roger brings with him years of cover crop experience and shares this great advice, “Make friends with somebody who’s already doing it (conservation farming) and ask questions.” Roger will be more than happy to answer any of your questions on the 25th, along with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Area Soil Scientist, Scot Haley and Wabash County NRCS District Conservationist, Adam Jones.
The Wabash County SWCD has cost-share assistance available throughout the county. If you farm in the Middle Eel River Watershed the districts Lake and River Enhancement Grant has been accepted for 2016. You can apply for up to 300 acres of cover crops and the cost-share reimbursement is $35.00 an acre. If you farm in the Beargrass Creek Watershed within the Middle Eel the district is now taking applications for the IDEM Clean Water Act Section 319 Grant cost-share funds through Manchester University. These funds are for cover crops, but also other conservation practices.
If you own land in the Wabash River Watershed there are still funds available through the 2015 Clean Water Indiana (CWI) Grant Program the Wabash County SWCD and the Miami County SWCD share. The maximum amount of acres that you can apply for is 100 and the cost-share reimbursement is $20.00 an acre. If you applied for either of these programs last year you may reapply, but preference will be given to first time applications.
Do you farm in the Lower Salamonie River Watershed? The Huntington County SWCD has cost-share funds available through their IDEM Clean Water Act Section 319 Grant for portions of Wabash County. This grant will cover several conservation practices, including cover crops. They will also be hosting a cover crop field day on Wednesday August 31st that will be held in south-eastern Huntington County at Adam Jones’s farm located on St. Rd 3, approximately 1 ½ miles north of St. Rd 218. Guest speakers will be Gerry Davis from Bryon Seeds, Scot Haley and Adam Jones.
NRCS has many different programs that landowners can take advantage of and one that has been very successful in Wabash County is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns. EQIP dollars can be used for soil health practices like no till and cover crops, but can also assist with wildlife enhancement, manure management, water quality practices and forestry management. EQIP is a continual sign-up and can be applied for no matter where you own land in the county.
Call the Wabash County SWCD at 260-563-7486 ext. 3 or stop by the office at 599 Bryan Avenue to find out more information about any of these opportunities. The Wabash County SWCD Board of Supervisors have personal experience in using cover crops and would love to help you succeed! Please contact us if you ever have any questions, a SWCD Board Member or Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Staff Member can help you.
It’s finally summer and the sounds of nature are in full force. Waking up to birds chirping and listening to butterflies flapping and bees buzzing while enjoying the patio is something we’ve all been looking forward to since winter. But these animals are bringing more than just music to our ears – they’re also bringing food.
It’s estimated that about three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants and about 35 percent of the world’s food crops depend on pollinators to reproduce. Some scientists estimate that one out of every three bites of food we eat exists because of pollinators like bees, butterflies and moths, birds and bats, and beetles and other insects.
Unfortunately, pollinators are faced with many challenges in today’s modern world and we have seen a significant decline in these crucial species over the past several years. Habitat loss, disease, parasites, and environmental contaminants have all contributed to the decline of many species of pollinators.
One species in particular, the Monarch butterfly, has decreased from more than 1 billion in 1995 to about 34 million today. Scientists attribute the decline of monarchs to the decrease in native plants like milkweed. Evidence of population declines has prompted scientists and conservationists, alike, to encourage changes in ecosystem management. These once-common butterflies are growing less familiar and private lands will continue to play a crucial role in aiding the recovery of this species that serves as an indicator of ecosystem health.
USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is just one of many agencies encouraging change by investing dollars in a 10-state targeted conservation effort to give owners and managers of private lands the tools they need to create and enhance habitat for monarch butterflies. With assistance from NRCS, producers and conservation partners can increase critical populations of milkweed and nectar-rich plants by establishing them along field borders, in buffers along waterways or around wetlands, in pastures and other suitable locations. And we know when landowners improve habitat for monarchs, they are also providing food and habitat for other essential pollinators, reducing erosion, increasing soil health, and inhibiting the expansion of invasive species.
June 20-26 is National Pollinator week. As we celebrate pollinators throughout this week, I want to thank Indiana’s farm families for all you do to care for the land, improve the environment, and provide us safe and affordable food and fiber. I look forward to continuing to work together to provide better habitat for our pollinator friends!
You are invited to learn more about the Natural Resources Conservation Service, conservation practices and pollinators. Stop by and talk with your District Conservationist or visit our website www.in.nrcs.usda.gov. To locate the office nearest you, visit: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/contact/local/.
Written by Meg Leader and Reprinted from the ISDA 6/3/16 Newsletter with permission.
INfield Advantage (INFA) is in the middle of enrolling participants and their corn fields in the 2016 program. This year the program covers about two-thirds of the state with 35 local groups. Each local group is organized by a local contact person, either an ISDA Division of Soil Conservation Resource Specialist or a staff person from one of the other Indiana Conservation Partnership organizations. With each group enrolling between 10 and 20 growers, INFA anticipates over 400 growers participating in the program this year, up from last year’s 350. This year’s anticipated growth will expand the number of acres where the growers are using our tools to monitor their nitrogen use efficiency to over 70,000 acres.
INFA this year includes a pilot program with Indiana Pork. Indiana Pork is offering their producers, and anyone who applies hog manure, the chance to use INFA’s tools to monitor how these fields are using nitrogen to produce a successful corn crop. The pilot project expands the traditional INFA program by offering additional testing during the growing season and the chance to participate in a winter grower meeting where all the growers share a consistent management practice.
The winter grower meeting is what sets INFA apart from a grower collecting their own imagery and testing results. At the meeting, the small local group’s participants have a chance to discuss and compare their results between themselves with guidance from an agronomic consultant. Each meeting includes two presentations, the first covering general information and a second with related Purdue University research, followed by discussion time for the growers.
The 2015 program results were discussed at winter meetings held a few months ago. At the conclusion of each meeting, participants were asked for feedback on whether attending the meeting was worthwhile to them. They were asked to judge each section of the meeting separately. Uniformly, over 80% of the attendees rated each section of the meeting as worthwhile to highly worthwhile. In the discussion portion alone, over 95% of the participants gave it a rating as either worthwhile or highly worthwhile with three out of four participants saying it was a highly worthwhile use of their time.
INFA is available to Indiana producers at no additional charge through the support of the Indiana Conservation Partnership and Indiana Corn and Soybean checkoff. The Indiana Pork Project has additional support from Indiana Pork checkoff.
Contact the Wabash County SWCD if you are interested in their Indiana Pork Grower Group at 260-563-7486 ext. 3 or stop by the office at 599 Bryan Avenue, Wabash.
May 10th was a wonderful day of celebration in Indiana for conservation. The Indiana Conservation Partnership (ICP) met in Hendricks County for an employee appreciation day where over 340 members of the ICP met, including Soil & Water Conservation Districts, Natural Resource Conservation Service and Indiana State Department of Ag. The following day Susi helped Miami County 5th graders learn about wild flowers during their visit to the Lost Sister Trail, just one example of how well the ICP works locally.
We have been working closely with IDEM to complete current Rule 5 requests. Any construction that takes place outside of city limits and disturbs more than 1 acre of land must submit a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan to us as the local Soil and Water Conservation District prior to any construction. We then work with Rob Beck to review the plan in hopes that during construction our waters remain safe.
We are now taking applications for two landowner cost-share opportunities for cover crop seed. We have funds secured in the Wabash River Watershed through a current Clean Water Indiana Grant that we administer with Miami County SWCD and we have once again submitted a Lake and River Enhancement Grant through the IDNR for the Middle Eel River Watershed. Though we do not know if we have received it yet, we are taking applications so we know who is interested if it is awarded to us.
The cost-share program through IDEM’s 319 Grant that Manchester University holds for the Beargrass Creek Watershed has been approved and we can begin taking applications for those funds and working with farmers to implement their projects.
As always, contact us with any questions about our work.
The Wabash County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) is excited to announce they have two possible funding opportunities for cost-share assistance towards fall cover crop application. If you farm in the Middle Eel River Watershed and/or the Wabash River Watershed in Wabash County and currently use or have ever thought about applying cover crops, now is your chance!
Middle Eel River Watershed– Last year the Wabash County SWCD was awarded a $70,000.00 Lake And River Enhancement (LARE) Grant and successfully allocated all those funds for the application of fall 2015 cover crops. They have submitted a second grant this year and are waiting to hear if it has been accepted. Meanwhile, the district would like you to submit an application and ranking sheet to them, so that if they are awarded the funds the recipients are in place. You can apply for up to 300 acres of cover crops and the cost-share reimbursement is $35.00 an acre.
Wabash River Watershed- In 2015 through the Clean Water Indiana (CWI) Grant Program the Wabash County SWCD and the Miami County SWCD were awarded a $75,000.00 grant for cover crop application to be spent over the next three years. We have funds left that are secured and there will be cost-share on cover crop applications this fall. The maximum amount of acres that you can apply for is 100 and the cost-share reimbursement is $20.00 an acre.
If you applied for either of these programs last year you may reapply, but preference will be given to first time applications. Both the Middle Eel River Watershed and Wabash River Watershed Applications and Ranking Forms are due June 20th. Call the Wabash County SWCD at 260-563-7486 ext. 3 so they can send you an application or stop by the office at 599 Bryan Avenue to fill out your forms.
Cover crops are very beneficial to decrease soil erosion, increase soil fertility, improve water infiltration and boost over-all soil health. The Wabash County SWCD Board of Supervisors have personal experience in using cover crops and would love to help you succeed! Please contact us if you ever have any questions, a SWCD Board Member or Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Staff Member can help you.
May 2016 Conservation Update
Our big news for the month of April was that Adam Jones has been selected to be the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) District Conservationist for Wabash County! Adam has been working in Wabash since Joe Updike underwent heart surgery in June 2014, and after he officially retired in October of 2015 the position could be opened. We truly appreciate Joe’s dedication to Wabash County and look forward to working with Adam full-time. Adam is very familiar with Wabash County and our landowners having worked for the district before acquiring a position with NRCS as a Soil Conservationist. This is the smoothest transition for everyone!
April 5th was our annual pick up from the Jasper-Pulaski State Tree Nursery. As an SWCD we provide a third party pick up for landowners who purchased trees from the nursery so they are here locally for them to obtain. Over 1,800 trees were planted in our area!
April also concluded our 4th Annual Rain Barrel Sale and 12 more barrels were added to local down spouts to help conserve rain water and prevent storm water pollution. They were delivered on May 6th, just in time for Mother’s Day.
The new 2016 plat books have sold very well and the board has decided to use proceeds from the sale to donate a plat wall map to the Wabash County Historical Museum and the North Manchester Center for History.
SAVE THE DATE: On Thursday August 25, 2016 we will host a Cover Crop Field Day at the Wabash County Farm. After the wheat is harvested, various cover crops will be planted and during our field day guest speakers will be Roger Wenning and Scot Haley.
Celebrate Earth Day by Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
April 15, 2016
As Earth Day approaches, we see a complex, changing world ahead of us. It’s an undeniable fact that our Earth’s climate is changing. Over the past century, we have seen large increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. This buildup of greenhouse gases is changing the Earth’s climate and challenging our ability to produce food and fiber.
While this is something we can’t change overnight, we all have a responsibility to take care of our planet by reducing our carbon footprint and working to offset what we can’t reduce.
There are many ways to offset our carbon footprint, but one of the easiest methods may be as simple as maintaining healthy forests and woodlands. As trees grow, they remove carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has calculated that our forests currently sequester approximately 10–20 percent of the country’s emissions each year. This accounts for 90 percent of all the carbon sequestered in the U.S. today. Managing forests and woodlands is a key national climate change strategy.
Unfortunately, trees are decreasing at an alarming rate. And while the most rapid rate of deforestation has slowed over the past decade, forests are converted each year for development or other uses, or lost to natural causes like fire, storms and disease.
I’m happy to announce that the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Forest Service have joined forces once again to help mitigate the effects of climate change by working together to improve the health and resiliency of our forest ecosystems. Through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership, the two agencies are working to restore forested landscapes by focusing on regenerating high quality hardwoods, such as oak on private and public lands. The project is located in eighteen counties of the most heavily forested and biologically diverse forest systems in southern Indiana.
Every day is Earth Day for NRCS in Indiana. We are doing our part to help meet the challenges that lay ahead for our world by helping landowners take action to improve their land. I am so proud of our employees and partners who have a passion for what they do and who work every day to make Indiana a great place to live.
You are invited to learn more about the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Stop by and talk with your District Conservationist or visit our website www.in.nrcs.usda.gov. To locate the office nearest you, visit: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/contact/local/.
2015 survey results show steady increase in cover crops
Indianapolis, IN, April 20, 2016 – Results from the 2015 Indiana Fall Tillage and Cover Crop Transect, which is an on-the-ground survey, indicate that overall soil health in Indiana is improving. According to the data, over 1.1 million acres of cover crops were planted in 2015, which is an increase of nearly 10 percent compared to the previous year and 225 times more coverage over the past decade.
Cover crops build soil organic matter, protect against soil erosion, cycle nutrients, reduce compaction, sequester carbon from the atmosphere, and build overall soil health and make it more resilient to weather extremes. The increase of cover crops confirms that the Indiana Conservation Partnership’s efforts are helping farmers successfully improve soil health throughout the state.
“We introduced the cover crop assessment to the survey in 2011 so that we could better tell the story of Indiana’s conservation efforts,” said Jane Hardisty, Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist. “Cover crops protect soil from extreme weather and retain valuable nutrients in fields during winter months, playing a key role in soil health. With more farmers implementing this practice, the 2015 survey results prove why Indiana continues to be a national leader in soil health.”
Hoosier farmers also continued the trend of plowing less and using sound conservation practices that preserve valuable topsoil, according to the 2015 data. Not plowing the soil is a critical component to improving soil health and can reduce soil erosion by 75 percent when compared to a conventional tillage system. The results show that 55 percent of Indiana’s harvested cropland was left undisturbed during the winter months.
“When our farmers apply sound conservation practices, it’s good for the soil, contributes to improved water quality, and good for the future of agriculture,” said Ted McKinney, Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA). “These survey results indicate that not only are more farmers implementing these types of practices, which means that soil health is improving, but also that Indiana has a conservation model that works and continues to garner national attention.”
In addition to the survey, which provides data on no-till farming and cover crops, the eight partners of Indiana’s Conservation Partnership also promote other practices as part of a soil health management system. This system combines practices such as adaptive nutrient management, integrated weed and pest management, diverse crop rotations, precision farming technology, and prescriptive buffers to improve soil function and make land more sustainable.
To learn more about Indiana’s conservation efforts, please visit icp.iaswcd.org, or to find the tillage transect for your county, contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District office by visiting www.in.gov/isda/2370.htm. Additionally, ISDA maintains tillage transect reports dating back to 1990 on their website www.in.gov/isda/2383.htm which also includes the most recent transect results.
It is with much excitement that the Wabash County SWCD announces that Adam Jones has been selected as the new Natural Resources Conservation Service District Conservationist for Wabash County. After graduating from Purdue University Adam worked for the Wabash County SWCD before being hired by NRCS. He has worked for NRCS as a Soil Conservationist for over ten years and has been the acting DC in Wabash County since Joe Updike’s retirement. He is very familiar with the Wabash County and our landowners so this will be a great transition for everyone! Please stop by the office to officially Welcome Adam into his new positon!